(Associated Press) - A state audit suggests the Massachusetts Medicaid program squandered more than $500 million through unnecessary payments or missed savings opportunities in its managed care program.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump released her findings Tuesday, saying it represented the highest dollar value of a state audit in the past 27 years.

The report covers the period of October 2009 to September 2014.

It found MassHealth _ the state Medicaid program _ made $233 million in unnecessary direct payments for medical services that should have been paid for by managed care organizations. The audit also suggested the state could have saved up to $288 million through more specific structuring of managed care contracts.

In a response included with the audit, MassHealth said it believed that $127 million in payments questioned by Bump were appropriate.

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